This is the End
We saved some of the best games for last.
Let's start in Bangor.
The Old Orchard Beach/Dexter game was projected to be the closest game of the slate, but maybe the Model didn't completely account for Elise MacNair, who had 21 of OOB's 35 points.
That's OOB's first girls Gold Ball.
Pier Fries for everyone!!!
We move to Portland, where thanks to the snowstorm and scheduling, we had a state game at the Expo for the first time since 1968. Here's the radio broadcast from that year's small school game.
As for the big game...
We didn't get an overtime last night, but we damn near got close.
Closer than the floor was to being straight.
To say the Spruce Mountain girls came out of the gate cold is an understatement.
In Invasions of the Body Snatchers, aliens take over the bodies of real Americans and everything is a little bit off, which is kind of how Spruce Mountain started the game. They were a half a step slow and couldn't buy a basket and looked very much like the team that hadn't had a chance to shoot at the state venue.
Ellsworth built a lead behind Abby Radel (17 points) and Grace Jaffray (10 points and 16 rebounds). They had it as high as 21 in the 3rd quarter and it looked like we'd be seeing some JV minutes. Except, there were signs of life. After scoring 15 points in the first half, Spruce scored 18 in the 3rd quarter and after shooting 18% in the first quarter, they were 50% in the 3rd. But they were having trouble putting together stops, as Ellsworth kept responding.
Spruce didn't quit.
They got it to 15 after 3, which isn't amazing, but it was progress. And then they went on their run. They got it to single digits with 6 minutes left and you could sort of see the path to a comeback. The Phoenix forced 7 Ellsworth turnovers in the final quarter and went 10-13 from the line as the Eagles got into foul trouble while no one was paying attention.
Spruce got it to 7 with 5 and a half minutes left when the officials decided it was a good time to fix the net. Everything stopped. We waited. It took 4 minutes, but it felt like forever. Spruce kept coming, fueled by Olivia Mastine and Jadyn Pingree (9 each in the 4th) and when Mastine gave Spruce Mountain their first lead of the game with 2:07 to play, the Expo was rocking.
Radel answered almost immediately to re-gain the lead, then Jaydn Pingree took it back at the free throw line, giving Spruce a 2-point lead with 49 seconds to play. Ellsworth nearly turned it over on the next possession, but Addison Atherton kept the play alive and then knocked down a jumper from the free throw line to tie it. Spruce couldn't answer, Megan Jordan was fouled in the rebounding action, hit the first free throw, missed the second and Atherton came down with the rebound of her life. Atherton missed her free throw, Mastine grabbed the rebound and, well, the ending will be dissected in Jay until the end of time.
Maine Public has the replay up if you want to check it out. The high water mark for the Ellsworth lead was 40-19, if you just want to watch the rally.
In the Class C Boys game, Ryan McLaughlin was there with updates as Dirigo won their second consecutive Gold Ball.
Dirigo held Jace Cook to just 10 points in the game, but Calais was there until the very end in a back-and-forth game. Dirigo scored the final 6 points of the game.
After the ending of the girls game, the Expo was buzzing ahead of the B Boys game between Oceanside and Orono.
Orono came out flying around. Ben Francis had 7 in the first quarter as the Red Riots raced out to a 20-12 lead. Oceanside made runs--they got that lead down to one mid-way through the second, but Orono always answered. Much like in the girls game, the team that had already played 3 games in the Expo was the one struggling to score. They were only 2-8 from deep in the first half while Orono was shooting 61.9% from the floor.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, Orono started to pull away. Will Francis scored to put them up 11 with under a minute to go in the quarter. In the 4th quarter, they stretched the lead to 13 and led 60-49 with a 1:24 to go.
And then the rally started.
Carter Galley hit a 3 to get it to 8.
He hit a 3 to get it to 5.
Orono kept missing free throws (they were 3-9 from the line in the 4th).
Carter Galley hit a NBA 3 to get Oceanside within 2 with 5.2 seconds left. He had 15 points in the 4th quarter and 27 on the game.
Caden Gray hit a free throw, Alex Collins missed a half-court heave, and the Red Riots survived.
And that's a wrap.
All told, I saw 44 tourney games this year at 3 different venues and did live stats for 42 of them. I'm so very tired.
Thanks so much to everyone who subscribed to this website and newsletter and made that possible. I had so much fun and it was a great season.
This offseason, the plan is to keep the podcasts going, so subscribe on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, and I'll have accurate Heal Points for the spring sports. The newsletters will keep coming, just less frequently.
Because, hey, we've still got awards to hand out, like this one:
If you're in the Midcoast, I'll be at the Midcoast All-Star Game at the MAC on Friday.
It should be fun. Come say hi.